Brackets Brackets Brackets. It’s like Christmas day for everyone who sits at a desk all week. Nick and I peruse the bracket to talk about some of the top storylines, and Nick gives the ridiculous impression that he won’t be filling out a bracket this year.
Ridiculous. He should join our BRACKET CHALLENGE, which you can also join by clicking here. Lots of other blogs involved. Get in now before it fills up.
I then have the opportunity to talk with Kyle Whelliston of MidMajority.com to get some insight into the mid-majors who are dancing this year. Not only do we talk about the Butlers and the Woffords of the world, but we get into some of the theory about what makes a team a mid-major. The Mountain West is no longer a mid-major, but is the A-10? Is C-USA? Heck, with barely two teams in, is the Pac-10? We kid, about the last one, obviously, but there is a huge gray area surrounding The Mid Majority’s “red line” of demarcation for mid-major status.
We also discuss some of the teams you may not know much about in the bracket, and who has a real chance to do some damage in the tournament. Is anything really a true upset when it’s commonplace to have major conference teams like Washington and Florida as double-digit seeds and top five and six seeds going to traditional mid-majors?
Did someone on CBS — I want to give “credit” to Greg Anthony — really call New Mexico a sleeper in the East? They are a THREE SEED. But who are some sleepers? And is it fair to call a major conference team in the double-digits a sleeper, or just an underachiever? Are there any true sleepers out there?
Kyle also implores fans to follow the mid-majors all year, not just when it’s trendy to pick them in your bracket. He uses the analogy that they are cute puppies you can love forever, not goldfish you flush after a few weeks. This actually happens, and is so perfect an analogy it needs to be on a t-shirt.
Nick and I discuss the CBS schedule for the games. The 5:00 p.m. game is the lost timeslot. And why are there so many teams playing at the same time as others in their conference. More on this at TSB.
We try to do today’s show in five minutes bites. Or, I suppose, bytes. It obviously doesn’t work.
Today, we discuss:
• Tiger’s return and the theory that CBS put the kiabosh on Bay Hill because it would coincide with the NCAA Regionals (and be on NBC) as opposed to his enormous, and protected, return on CBS for the Masters.
• The crazy up and down world of the BIG EAST, including the chance that West Virginia could be a #1 seed. Plus, some Big 12 talk as well! See, we aren’t totally east coast biased.
• A complete and utter dismantling of the ridiculous Floating Realignment idea in MLB. More on that at TSB if you want to read my thoughts and see my plan for realignment. Oh, an a bit of advice for the teams who think they can’t compete for their division crowns because other teams are better: get better. If you can’t beat the Yankees and Red Sox, tough darts. Get better. Sure those two teams habitually make the playoffs, but the Red Sox have only been in two World Series since 1986. The Rays have been in one more recently. I’m not saying things shouldn’t change, but let’s back off the radical ideas because of the “success” of two teams.
• MLS labor talks may lead to a strike. So far, both sides have been doing things right.
• RIP Merlin Olsen. Nick puts out the question, for you, of which current athletes (or recently retired) will we think of more as actors/pitchmen/analysts and less for what they did on the field?
JE Skeets joins the show to talk about The Basketball Jones and the move for the entire crew – Skeets, Tas, JD and Matt – over to The Score. It’s an incredible situation for them, and as we’ve stated before, we could not be happier for the crazy Canadians.
But first…Skeets was in the hospital getting his severely sprained ankle looked at, which leads to a conversation about the waiting room happenings, including a homeless guy in a wheelchair who asked for a bite of Skeets’ sandwich. Why isn’t this a reality show? Like Cops, with freak injuries and blurred out faces of horrified people in the ER waiting room just looking to get a few stitches. If it is, I need to find this show.
Turns out, Skeets loves the idea, and hospitals in general. He actually had a PAPER ROUTE inside a hospital when he was a kid. INSIDE A HOSPITAL.
Okay, onto the Jones. We discuss the swanky new set, and how long it will take for one of their friends to start showing up every day, standing outside the enormous city street-view windows with signs making fun of them. Three days in and I’m shocked it hasn’t happened yet. We also discuss the potential changes he expects now that they are part of The Score. Will we get more comedy bits in addition to the daily show (and rumored weekly audio-interview show)? Is he at all concerned that he’ll need to be more of a comedian now that they’ll (possibly) be expected to come up with more funny bits? Oh, and of course, when’s the TV time gonna start?
We also talk about his departure from Yahoo, and if he’s concerned that he went from one of the most trafficked basketball blogs in America to relative anonymity in the States working for a Canadian TV company. Sure fans of the Jones will still go, but what about the Yahoo traffic that would watch the show’s embed? What about his itch to blog? Will that be part of the gig at The Score? And — his words — how stupid is he to leave Yahoo?
But there’s a flip side. How stupid is Yahoo — my words — for letting him go? Why does The Score see the value in the future of podcasts like The Jones, but Yahoo didn’t? This leads to a brief and hopefully not haughty conversation about the future of our little industry and how it fits with MSM sites.
Congrats again to the Jones. Yahoo’s loss is Canada’s gain.
Skeets had to postpone his (heavily plugged) appearance for a trip to the ER, so rather than ask Nick about the Basketball Jones, we talk some Grapefruit League baseball.
And while we’re talking about Stephen Strasburg’s impact on the Nationals, our D.C. friend and resident GOPerative Phillip Stutts calls in to talk about the crazy insane Eric Massa media tour yesterday. Stutts is a pretty connected guy, so he shares some Inside the Beltway insight into how the White House feels about Congressmen and what the whole shakedown of Massa’s resignation really means.
Somehow this turns into a conversation about discussions in the shower which the leads to a HARD LEFT TURN back to baseball to discuss Bill Conlin’s claim that the Phillies have the best infield of the modern era. Is it better than the Yankees? Could the two best infields in the last 50 years both be playing right now?
We start with more on the spat between Keith Olbermann and Bill Simmons. For more on my thoughts, echoed in the conversation by Nick, read it at The Sporting Blog.
The news, of course, stems from this comment by Olbermann in response to Simmons calling him out on Twitter.
I am surprised, however, to be able to shed some light on something that has been a prominent topic of late around the internet: the prospect that Mr. Simmons is leaving ESPN. Admittedly I am something of an authority on this process. Nonetheless, I was stunned to receive several emails from some of Mr. Simmons’ bosses there, thanking me for pointing out the absurdity of, and the embarrassment to ESPN provided by, the Woods/Ali comparison.
About five years ago, I guess, somebody said Tony Kornheiser was the most uncontrollable, unmanageable talent in the history of ESPN. I was, of course, crushed (although I believe I got honorable mention). When ESPN bosses are writing me for helping them about somebody they claim has now lapped Tony and myself, I am left to conclude only that if Mr. Simmons does leave ESPN, it may not be entirely of his own choosing.
Not mentioned in my TSB piece is Nick’s assertion that Simmons has changed so much in the last ten years — to which I reply who hasn’t — mostly in his style of writing. Things are far more serious and authoritative than they used to be. The fun is gone from much of his style, and we wonder if it was sapped away from the prevalence of sports blogs. Namely, Drew Magary, who has either organically become the internet’s version of Simmons circa 1999 or made a calculated decision to model his entire online persona that way. Either way, we discuss how it has put Simmons into a bit more perspective that wasn’t there when he was the only sportscar in a lot full of sedans.
Rovitz, aka Ron Balaskovitz, winner of the first Blogs with Stones tournament, joins the show to talk about how great it is to curl online. But that’s not all! Rovitz not only admits he JOINED TWITTER just to play in Blogs with Stones, but also admits that he blew off friends from out of town to play in the tournament segment of the event. Also, and this is the better reason to have him on, Rovitz and friends travelled to the U.S. Curling Championships last weekend. We talk about the event, how it differed from the Olympic coverage and if he had any run-ins with John Shuster.
Turns out, the Olympians weren’t there, which makes me question how you have a national championship without the team that qualified for the Olympics. Nonetheless, we talk about the scene at the event, from the action on the ice to sitting in the stands and knowing when and when not to cheer.
Nick and I talk about Oscar night, from the standpoint of the telecast. What were some of the best and worst ideas of the night. I thought the show was just a weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee bit too long, and you could tell by the fact that they didn’t give an award away until 8:45. That, of course, did give Cablevision time to broker a deal with ABC, which had been dark to 3.1 million viewers all day.
Whose speech did we like and whose did we think was over-indulgent? And I cannot believe we didn’t get into the sad demise of Ben Stiller from someone who was actually funny at one point in his life to whatever he’s become now.
We talk about the Ben Roethlisberger situation a little bit and spin it into the news that Allen Iverson is going through a divorce and, according to reports, a drunk. CLEARLY, the Big Ben story is coverable and enormous news, but is the Iverson stuff? If he’s no longer playing, does it matter what goes on with his wife? Or, did his domestic situation, including his reported drinking, lead to a premature end of his career? And, more with regard to Ben – and in reference to our conversation about sports and politics last week – at what point do we stop rooting for a player just because of the jersey he wears? Will Pittsburgh fans revolt, if the allegations are true? Will they revolt anyway. How important is winning to fans? Enough to root for a guy like (allegedly) this?
No show today. We were going to have Skeets on, but it makes more sense to have him on next week once they have some Score things to promote. Nick is off being an international man of mystery. Or at work. One of those.
If you haven’t please take the time to listen to yesterday’s show.
If you listen to this show you know how much I’m into curling these days. It went from a campy fun sport in the Olympics that you’ll watch because it’s the only thing on, to something we all really seemed to care about, learn about and embrace. The man heading the television coverage — calling every match on the NBC family of networks — was Andrew Catalon, and I am very happy to have him on the show.
If you haven’t heard of Catalon, you’re not alone. In fact, this is part of his bio from WNYT, NewsChannel 13 in Albany:
Andrew Catalon is the weekend sports anchor at NewsChannel 13. He joined WNYT in November 2003. Andrew hosts “Big Board Sports with Andrew Catalon,” the Capital Region’s only Sunday night sports wrap-up show. When he is not on the anchor desk, you can usually find Andrew at a local high school. Each and every Tuesday, Andrew honors the top student-athletes in the area for the “Dunkin’ Donuts High School Player of the Week” segment.
In other words, he was plucked from the middle of nowhere (no disrespect to Albany). So how did he go from his local NBC affiliate to covering the cult-favorite sport of the Olympics? We discuss his affiliation with the network, from doing a few local productions on the sport to calling a promotional event on the ice at Rockafeller Center for NBC, eventually leading to a gig calling Handball during the Beijing Games, which carried over to Vancouver.
We talk a lot about soccer today. The latest FIFA World Rankings came out today and the US is ranked 18th. At the Sporting Blog, I write about how this can be a good thing for the USMNT. Nick and I discuss that, and the expectations of a team that is lower in the rankings, compared to what the USMNT had to face going into the 2006 World Cup with a top-five ranking. This team is better than that, so has the world gotten better? Likely, the ranking is low because of the mediocre play of the B and C squads, but will the lowered ranking hurt the interest in America? Will it maybe give a little boost if the team does well? Or does it matter at all?
We also talk about the report from BigSoccer.com that has JP Dellacamera out of the booth for ESPN and headed to radio in lieu of a slew of European imports, most notably Martin Tyler. Some at Big Soccer are upset, suggesting if ESPN wants to prove they take soccer in America seriously, they should have an American in the booth. But wouldn’t you rather have Marv Albert calling a game than, say, Kevin Harlan? And isn’t Tyler the soccer equivalent of Albert? Besides, doesn’t everything just sound better with a British accent?
We turn the show upside-down today and lead off with some Housekeeping.
A heartfelt congratulations to the fine folks at The Basketball Jones, who will now be doing the show on a full-time basis for The Score. There have been only a few times I can remember where I was as genuinely happy to hear news like this…for someone else. We wouldn’t be doing a daily show if they didn’t show me it’s possible…even if it does make you insane…and we congratulate and salute those Canadian bastards for not only doing things the “right” way, but also for doing it their way. They earned this by doing their show the way they wanted to do it, and that deserves the most applause.
While we’re patting friends on the back, a hearty congratulations to John Gonzalez of the Philadelphia Inquirer and a contestant in Blogs with Stones. He’s joining Vai Sikahema every weekday from 10-2 on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. I had issues with that time slot in the past, but not anymore. Good for them.
Also, last bit of housekeeping…JOIN OUR BABY POOL. We’re turning it into a show contest, with the winner getting half the pot and the other half going to charity. Sign up at http://babylevy2.babypool.com and tell your friends.